The Work-From-Home (WFH) Pros and Cons debate has raged for almost as long as the lockdowns have been going on. Netflix’s CEO believes that lockdowns are counterproductive, and Elon Musk is even moving Tesla out of Silicon Valley and to Texas in what is believed to be a snub of California’s stringent lockdown rules.
But Spotify has announced that it will embrace the WFH paradigm even after the lockdowns have come to an end.
Regardless of opinions, WFH is a reality for many of us right now. At Pearl Accountants, we were prepared for the WFH restrictions even before they were announced. We held briefings at the office and allowed staff to take their screens home from the office long before lockdown became a fact of life for many of us here in the UK.
Here are a few hacks that we have found that help with what some people find a challenging set of circumstances to work under at the moment.
1. Stay connected, but not only for work.
Whether at home or at the office, humans need interaction and communication. One of the things people miss most about working at an office is the “water cooler” conversations many of we used to have.
It’s important to stay connected to work colleagues outside of work itself. Set up a call with them for after hours, when the work is done, pull out a drink and some snacks and just chat about things in general.
2. Set a schedule, define boundaries.
For many, working from home also means they are unable to change gears from their home life to their work life. Home and work start to blur together, leading to burnout and stress.
It’s important to keep work separate from relaxation. Rather chat about work during a work call and then kick up your feet later — perhaps even in a separate room — and have a “fun chat” with a few colleagues.
3. Move around
When working from home, it becomes too easy to simply sit on one’s rump and stare at the same computer screen all day, even when checking one’s Facebook account because, heck, it’s all on the same computer!
This might cause people not to move around, leading to listlessness, burnout, posture problems and restlessness.
Set an alarm to get up for ten minutes every hour and stretch.
4. “Screens Off” time
In addition to your “move around” alarm, set a start and end time for “screens off” — and that means all screens off, phones included!
Read a book instead or do a quick bit of exercise.
5. Wear work clothes when it’s time to work
“Oh, but can’t I just stay in my PJs?”
Sure, occasionally. But enforcing that you keep some kind of routine will force you to implement that vital division between work, family and play.
Usually, we use the spaces and places in our lives to divide those parts of our lives. Working from home means we need to train our minds to recognise that we are indeed in a “different role” now than we were five minutes ago, even though we might still be in the same room.
6. Eat properly
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of these tips follow the same theme: The work-family-play divide.
But it’s not only a matter of mental health. Maintaining this divide is essential because it also enforces that we stick to basic routines that are necessary for our physical health.
And it is a known fact that a good diet is essential for brain health.
7. Turn off the news
Consuming excessive amounts of bad news can lead to increased “anxiety, fatigue and sleep loss”.
In a world situation where anxiety is already at an all-time high, cutting down on news consumption is crucial to improving your state of mind and, hence, your ability to work healthily from home.
Whatever your opinion on the lockdowns and the government’s handling (or mishandling) of the COVID pandemic, it will always remain a fact that many news stations earn their bread and butter from the number of clicks they receive. Unfortunately, news reporting in today’s high-tech and ever-changing world has become more about media outlets creating division and churning out “click-bait” than it is about telling the truth.
During these trying times, attempts by media organisations to “herd” people into believing one thing or another is not going to do anything positive for your state of mind while you work from home. These are tough times and it is essential that you do your best to stay calm and know, in your heart, the sun will rise again. If not today, then tomorrow.
Rumour-mongering and divisive, jarring, bad news will do nothing to help you survive working from home during a lockdown.
So, switch it off!
8. Keep your bookkeeping up to date.
Finally, use any extra time you might have to keep your taxes and bookkeeping up to date. Too many self-employed people leave their bookkeeping and taxes to the last minute. When the lockdowns come to an end, the last thing you’ll want to be doing is spending sunny afternoons hunched over a shoebox of unfiled receipts!
Use this downtime to catch up on administrative tasks that always get left for last, and look forward to having a ton of time off when the doors reopen again!
Shoaib Aslam is the co-founder of Pearl Chartered Accountants, a UK-based chartered accountancy firm that has multiple locations across London. They are experts in helping startups and established businesses with all aspects of growth, strategy, scaling up, accounting and tax planning.